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Knowing
Knowing
by Lynn Seiser
04-26-2011
Knowing

Breathe in, what others believe they know
Breathe out, what you believe you know
Knowing

"To be or not to be, that is the question." To be what? How do we decide what to do or who to be? How do we know what we know? How do we know our knowing?

Epistemology is the study of what is knowledge, how knowledge is acquired, and how do we know what we know. This is our attempt to find truth.

Many equate knowledge with intelligence. Other see it as wisdom. For some it's simply the accumulation of trivial information.

IMHO, most of us live with a degree of ignorance. We accept the information given us often without question or query. What we are told, we believe to be true. It is probably believed to be true by the people telling us (our parents, teachers, instructors, etc.). We create who we believe we are through imitation and identification with those in our immediate external environment. The inside becomes a reflection and duplication of the outside. Because the internal and external match, we decide they must be true and decide to live in agreement with them.

I often tell people that they only need to figure out three things. First, you have to know what you really want. Second, you have to know what you need to do to get what you want. Third, you have to do it. I also describe this as the three Ds: decisions, directions, and daily discipline. You have to decide what you want. Then you have to know in what direction it lays. Then you have to have the discipline to walk in that direction everyday. If you decide you want to be good at Aikido (or anything in life), you then find a place to train and show up on a regular basis where eventually over time with practice and competent instruction you just might gain some insight and skill into the art we practice.

In Aikido (or other martial arts training) I often talk about automating our responses by understanding OODA. First we observe and become aware of what is happening in the external environment. Then we have to orient our thinking and evaluate the information. Next we decide what to do about it. Finally, we act on it. We can learn to be more externally aware and perceptive of our surroundings. It's the middle two stages in the process that can be cognitively and intelligently sped up by some forethought and planning. In Aikido there is always the practice of being aware of how you are being approached and attacked, if it is an honest and genuine effort, what are all the possibilities to respond to it, narrowing it down to one, deciding it's a good one and deciding to act on it. It takes so much longer to describe that process than to just do it. But that is the goal in training, to go through this decision making process so mindfully slow so often that the response behavior is automatic. This takes practice and patience. Many people try to bypass the new learning stage and stay stuck with their old behaviors and frustrations.

This applies to beliefs too. Many of us old bashers were taught to defend ourselves (and others) through force and violence. I remember starting Aikido training and asking when I finally could hit somebody. I was shocked to find out that I was not only not supposed to hit them; I wasn't supposed to do any damage to anyone. I thought damage control simply meant I got to decide who got damaged. To do Aikido I would not just have to change my behavior, but my awareness (observation) and my assessment (orientation) to make my decision to decisively respond assertively with non-violence and non-malice. So how do you decide to re-decide something that has been literally pounded into you your whole life?

This implies that for a period of time I was going to have to live my life looking inside myself to decide not who I was but who I wanted to be. I had to figure out if I wanted to be a good man, what beliefs I needed to justify it and give myself permission to act against the social norms and my past identifications, decisions, and directions. I was not just learning a new martial art; I was learning to become a new person. I wished I could say it's the one I have always been underneath all my chaos and confusion, that it was my true self, but I know that is not true. I had to discover and decide what truths, what knowledge would allow me to evolve in a more transformative and generative direction, of which Aikido was only another tool, a context, or an opportunity to practice my new daily discipline.

As my search continued, I simply stayed with the decision to be a good man. This was not going to be an easy direction to maintain. It seemed that everyone had their own idea what that meant. There is not congruence or consistency in the spiritual, psychological, social, philosophical, cognitive, emotional, and what ever else I could thing definition of a good man was. With some concentration and contemplation I was able to discern the common denominator and directions. I had one path, one line to follow. If something was online with that, I'd decide to do it. If it was off that line, I'd decide not to. I didn't have to make a lot of decisions, only the one to walk in the direction of being a good man. The decision making process became rather easy and automatic. Actually once that decision was made, most of the rest made themselves. On some level, in the quiet calm of our conscious and unconscious, we all know what it means to be a good person. Let's decide to do it.

I decided to give up the search for truth, enlightenments, and self-actualization, since we all seem to believe we have a monopoly on it and accept that this was simply my decision to arbitrarily accept different cognitive constructs and practice different non-violent non-competitive behaviors and expressions on the belief or faith that someday it will work. I decided to be a good man and study Aikido since it was congruent and consistent with my direction and discipline.

How do I know what I know is true? I don't. But when I look at my life now, I know it is better than it used to be and far better than I deserve. That's good enough for me.

Breathe in, what others believe they know
Breathe out, what you know
Knowing (without knowing)

Thanks for listening, for the opportunity to be of service, and for sharing the journey. Now get back to training. KWATZ!
Lynn Seiser (b. 1950 Pontiac, Michigan), Ph.D. has been a perpetual student of martial arts, CQC/H2H, FMA/JKD, and other fighting systems for 40 years. He currently holds the rank of Sandan (3rd degree Black Belt) in Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Dang Thong Phong at the Westminster Aikikai Dojo in Southern California. He is the co-author, with Phong Sensei, of Aikido Basics (2003), Advanced Aikido (2006), and Aikido Weapons Techniques (2006) for Tuttle Publishing. His martial art articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Aikido Today Magazine, and Martial Arts and Combat Sports Magazine. He is the founder of Aiki-Solutions and IdentityTherapy and is an internationally respected psychotherapist in the clinical treatment of offenders and victims of violence, trauma, abuse, and addiction. He currently lives in Marietta, GA and trains at Roswell Budokan.
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Old 04-27-2011, 03:36 AM   #2
crbateman
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Re: Knowing

Hi Lynn,

Thanks for a great column. As usual, it shows a lot of thought went into it.

When I look at my own "big picture", I can't say that I always can pin down "what I want", let alone "how to get it", but I know that if I can be a little better in some way today than I was yesterday, then it wasn't a wasted day.

Keep writing 'em and I'll keep reading 'em...
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Old 04-27-2011, 04:28 AM   #3
SeiserL
 
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Re: Knowing

Quote:
Clark Bateman wrote: View Post
When I look at my own "big picture", I can't say that I always can pin down "what I want", let alone "how to get it", but I know that if I can be a little better in some way today than I was yesterday, then it wasn't a wasted day.
For many of us, not wasting the opportunities we are given is the how/way to the big picture.

Its about the process as much as it is about the goal.

I have met a lot of people who want the goal, but don't want the process/how to get there. They go now where.

I know fewer people who enjoy the process itself and they keep improving.

As always, thanks for reading, responding, and being a kindred spirit.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-27-2011, 10:26 AM   #4
carina reinhardt
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Re: Knowing

Thank you Lynn for your interesting column, I never thought much about a goal, I began to train very late but regular and never liked to hit anybody. I sure enjoy my aikido classes and try to go to every seminar because I like them very much.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:16 AM   #5
graham christian
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Re: Knowing

Hi Lynn.

Wow! Full marks for an excellent piece. It's been a pleasure reading it.

'The way of the mountain echo?' G.
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Old 04-27-2011, 11:48 AM   #6
SeiserL
 
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Re: Knowing

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
'The way of the mountain echo?'
An echo is produced by the resonance of emptiness and bouncing off the boundaries. Both are necessary.

To know what we don't know is useful.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-27-2011, 02:03 PM   #7
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Re: Knowing

Hi Lynn, and thank you for your post, you really struck a cord in me today, Ive been struggling with a problem, a big problem for a very very long time, and this one problem effects pretty much everything I do. I wont go into details, however, over the last couple of years ive looked into so many different ways to overcome my problem, counciling, buddhism, psychology/ist, shinto, Aikido, self help groups (that one lasted one day!), self hypnosis, and many more.
But nobody asked me if I thought I was a good person, or a good man, not even myself. This one question has got me thinking all day today in a better and different way. I dont know if it will solve my problem but even asking the question has stopped me bang in my tracks.
See we may not always be able to describe what a good person is, but I believe most of us can tell a good person when we meet one!
Why? I dont know, but instincts paying attention to them and then acting on that, maybe we can find a good person in each and every one of us.

domo arigato gozaimashita.

In Budo
Andy B
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:32 PM   #8
SeiserL
 
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Re: Knowing

Quote:
Andrew Bedford wrote: View Post
But nobody asked me if I thought I was a good person, or a good man, not even myself. This one question has got me thinking all day today in a better and different way. I dont know if it will solve my problem but even asking the question has stopped me bang in my tracks.
Yes agreed.

So many ways and means of introspection and change actually start from the negative presupposition and reinforces that we are bad or broken people. This underlying judgments sabotages everything we do because if we do not change it, we always return to it.

IMHO we are all already good people, we just forget.

That is my decision, my direction, and my daily discipline.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-27-2011, 06:35 PM   #9
SeiserL
 
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Re: Knowing

Quote:
Carina Reinhardt wrote: View Post
I sure enjoy my aikido classes and try to go to every seminar because I like them very much.
Yes agreed.

Often what we know is that we are enjoying the process and look forward to where ever it takes us.

Sounds like we have a lot in common.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-29-2011, 04:08 AM   #10
niall
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Re: Knowing

Thanks Lynn, very interesting. The structure of your DDD and OODA advice is very clear and logical. I also admire your willingness to expose and share your own vulnerabilities - you have a calm centre and you have a lot to teach us.

we can make our minds so like still water, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life
w b yeats


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Old 04-29-2011, 09:48 AM   #11
SeiserL
 
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Re: Knowing

Quote:
Niall Matthews wrote: View Post
The structure of your DDD and OODA advice is very clear and logical.
Thanks for your kind words.

Being honest about ourselves doesn't make us vulnerable.

As I mentioned in another thread, if I don't keep it clear and simple, I tend to mess it up.

Thanks for reading and responding.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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